Bruins Game 27 Preview: Florida Panthers

Michael Sgarbossa, David Backes

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

By: Drew Johnson | Follow Me On Twitter: @doobshmoob

The Boston Bruins will be spending some time in the sunshine state this week as they take on the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. They will follow up this matchup with a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

The Bruins are coming off a tough loss to the Detroit Red Wings. After things got heated late in the second period, Detroit was able to steal the momentum and bury Boston’s hopes of a victory in the third period. The Panthers are coming off a loss themselves. They fell to the Lightning 5-4 in overtime on Saturday, bringing their record to 10-10-5.

Who’s Hot?

It seems that Ryan Donato learned a thing or two during his stint with the Providence Bruins this season. Since his return to the NHL, the young forward potted the shootout winner against the New York Islanders and a goal against Detroit this past weekend. It gives Boston hope that Anders Bjork could have a similar fate after being sent down to the AHL himself. The hope is that Donato now has the confidence necessary to continue executing while playing a two-way game – something that was a focus for him during his time in Providence.

It’s been a while since Jaroslav Halak has seen action – over a week, in fact. However, the netminder will be getting the start tonight against the Panthers. In his last six appearances, Halak went 4-2-0 with a .936 SV%. The only noticeable hiccup came against the Colorado Avalanche when he gave up six goals on 25 shots. Florida is the perfect opponent for Halak to go up against as he kicks back into gear – it’ll still be a challenge, but the Bruins are expected to come out on top. Halak should also get a big offensive boost from his teammates.

Alexander Barkov has been stellar for the Panthers this season, especially recently. He currently has a four-game point streak going with three goals and two assists. In total, Barkov has notched 23 points in 25 games and leads all Florida skaters in ice time, averaging just shy of 23 minutes per game.

Keith Yandle has been having yet another solid season along the blue line. The defenseman hasn’t missed a single matchup since the 2008-09 season having appeared in 731 straight games. In his 25 skates this season, Yandle has come up with four goals and 19 assists – 13 of those helpers coming on the power play. He leads all Panthers defensemen in scoring and ice time and will be one of Boston’s toughest customers on Tuesday night.

Who’s Not?

Boston’s depth has remained almost silent. While they have applied pressure, they have lacked the ability to execute. In fact, Charlie McAvoy – who has only appeared in seven games this season – is currently ranked eighth on the team in production with a goal and five assists. If that doesn’t indicate a lack in production from the bottom two lines, I don’t know what does.

Roberto Luongo will be a game-time decision on Tuesday. He’s had a rough go of it this season, having missed time with multiple injuries and going 4-3-0 with a .902 SV% and 3.07 GAA. The Panthers returned goaltender Michael Hutchinson to the AHL this afternoon, which could signify that Luongo will at least be wearing a baseball cap when his team takes on the Bruins.

Pastrnak Luongo

(Photo Credit: Associated Press)

If Luongo misses yet another start, James Reimer will take to the crease. Reimer has also struggled this season, posting a 5-6-3 record in 13 starts. Accompanied by a .893 SV% and 3.36 GAA, the Panthers are having a rough go of it in the goaltender department.

Bruins vs. Panthers Outlook

Given Florida’s struggles in the crease, the Bruins may see a wide variety of goal scorers on Tuesday night. In order to do so, they will need to bring their legs along with them. Outskating the Panthers will be the biggest key to Boston’s game. It’s something they failed to do in the latter stages of their loss to the Red Wings and a characteristic they haven’t brought to their game consistently throughout the first two months of the season.

Florida will be placing their hopes in the hands of their young forwards and star defensemen. The Panthers have a fairly well-rounded attack coming from both up front and the blue line so the Bruins may be put on their heels when up against Florida’s top five skaters.

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Boston Bruins Post Game Recap: Game 78: 4/5/18: Boston at Florida

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Boston Bruins
By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97
Home: Florida Panthers: 41-30-8, 90 points, fourth in the Atlantic Division
Away: Boston Bruins: 49-18-12, 110 points, first in the Atlantic Division
Florida’s Lineup
Boston’s Lineup
First Period
Tuukka Rask got into the game early with a nice kick save on Aleksander Barkov on the game’s opening shift. The Bruins looked into the game from the get go as Jake DeBrusk nearly gave the B’s the lead but hit the post on a chance from the slot.
Barkov broke the scoreless tie 7:44 into the first period after a beautiful passing sequence. The goal marked Barkov’s 100th career strike and his 27th of the season.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Dadonov hits <a href=””>@Barkovsasha95</a&gt; with a beautiful pass and it’s 1-0. <a href=””></a></p>&mdash; NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) <a href=””>April 5, 2018</a></blockquote>
Old friend Frank Vatrano added to the lead less than two minutes later after a turnover behind the net. The tally was Vatrano’s fifth of the season, third with the Panthers.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Look who it is.<br><br>Frank Vatrano beats Rask to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead over his former team. <a href=””></a></p>&mdash; Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) <a href=””>April 6, 2018</a></blockquote>
Michael Matheson took a holding penalty with about five minutes to play as David Krejci was able to sell it pretty well. Ryan Donato worked quickly as he potted a rebound just 15 seconds into the powerplay.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Ryan Donato 😍 <a href=””></a></p>&mdash; Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) <a href=””>April 6, 2018</a></blockquote>
Score: 2-1 Florida
Second Period
The Bruins knotted it up early in the period as a Florida turnover in their own zone resulted in a Danton Heinen goal. Heinen’s 15th of the year came from DeBrusk and Krejci at 2:11 of the period.
<blockquote class=”twitter-video” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>DANTON HEINEN TIES IT FOR THE BRUINS! <a href=””></a></p>&mdash; NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) <a href=””>April 6, 2018</a></blockquote>
The Panthers held much of the possession in the period and most of the chances but were unable to solve Rask who looked much improved from the first period.
Adam McQuaid went to the box with 6:15 to play in the period for a questionable interference penalty. The Bruins killed off the penalty thanks to some big blocks by the defense and Rask.
Score: 2-2
Third Period
The Bruins went on the penalty kill with 15:42 to go in the game as Charlie McAvoy went off for hooking. Thanks to some solid play in their own end, the B’s killed off the penalty which kept the game scoreless.
As the period wound down, the Bruins started to tilt the ice in their favor as the Panthers looked to be a big fatigued. Colby Cave got involved with a big hit on Barkov with seven minutes remaining.
The Panthers got new life as Jared McCann tipped in a shot from the point with just 5:37 to go. McCann’s ninth of the season gave the Panthers a 3-2 lead.
<blockquote class=”twitter-video” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>JARED MCCANN TIPS ONE HOME AND KEEPS THE PANTHERS SEASON ALIVE! <a href=””></a></p>&mdash; NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) <a href=””>April 6, 2018</a></blockquote>
Nick Bjugstad got loose for a breakaway after a turnover in the offensive zone by the Bruins but Rask came up big with a glove save to keep it a one-goal game.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Another big save by Tuukka Rask on Nick Bjugstad getting behind the Bruins defense again. He’s got 31 saves &amp; counting tonight and definitely hasn’t been the issue with the B’s in this one.</p>&mdash; Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) <a href=””>April 6, 2018</a></blockquote>
Not to outdo himself but Rask again stopped another breakaway this time by Vincent Trocheck as the Panthers forward tried to slip it five-hole.
Rask skated to the bench with about a minute to go as the Bruins looked to tie the game. Luongo and the Panthers stood tall, preserving their slim playoff hopes.
Final Score: 3-2 Panthers
Worth noting that Roberto Luongo played in his 1000th career game Thursday night. Big congratulations to him!